Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

(c) Garden Stems | Sweet Woodruff

Native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, Sweet Woodruff is a delightful groundcover with dainty baby-breath-like white flowers that blossom in the spring to early summer. It has a sweet scent and is a natural insect repellent making it a good companion for roses, peonies, hostas, bleeding hearts, columbines, and astilbes. It’s the perfect groundcover for those shady spots near trees or hedgebanks.

As an herb, Galium is sometimes used as a flavoring agent derived from coumarin! Mainly in Germany, it is used to flavor May wine (Maibowle) or punch that is drunk on the first of May. It is also used to flavor syrup for beer, brandy, sausages, jelly, jam, a soft drink, ice cream, and herbal tea. It is especially popular among young adults mixed with schnapps or vodka.

When dried, it can be used to enhance potpourri or like lavender, sweeten up your linen closet and drawers.

Common Name: Sweet Woodruff
Genus: Galium (GAL-ee-um)
Species: odoratum (oh-dor-AY-tum)
Family: Rubiaceae
Category: Perennial, groundcover, herb
Foliage: Herbaceous, aromatic
Height: 6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
Spacing: 9-12 in. (22-30 cm)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a to 8b
Sun Exposure: Part sun to full shade
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: late spring to early summer
Soil pH Requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
Water: Moist, rich soil; in dry summers it needs frequent irrigation
Propagation Method:
Division of roots during the spring and early summer, just after flowering.
Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds. Sown the end of July or beginning of August.
Other: In some areas, it can be invasive

About Jen

Jen is owner, author, and creative mind behind Bakerette. Jen eats a vegan diet and recently converted Bakerette to a plant-based website that offers a smattering of healthful recipes! Jen is author of the cookbook Festive Feasts: Meals and Memories from Halloween to Christmas, which can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


  1. Cynthia says:

    I love this groundcover! It’s so hard to find something that will enjoy dry shade conditions in our climate!

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